Mental health is a timeless issue // L’Observateur
Friday marks the end of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. At the end of September, The Observer encourages the tri-campus community and our readers to continue to advocate for mental health and support each other, especially as the pandemic approaches its 19th month.
As mental health resources have become inaccessible to many due to social distancing guidelines and growing economic inequalities in the first year of the pandemic, conversations about mental health and the accessibility of treatment have been brought to the forefront of public debate. Guarantees for Mental Health have been adopted in our community as pass / fail options, online courses and hybrid education. Taking care of yourself was a concept much appreciated and pleaded for in press articles, on Zoom and even on social networks.
However, at this point in the pandemic, some of these concepts have once again been put on the back burner in the name of normalcy – despite the fact that the world has suffered countless losses over the past 19 months and continues to suffer. Even as we move towards a semblance of normalcy, we must continue to prioritize conversations about mental health.
Likewise, suicide prevention and awareness is a conversation for the whole year beyond the 30 days of September. Find out about the signage mental illness and psychological distress. Check out your friends, even those who seem to have it together. Learn how to have open conversations about mental health, even if they are uncomfortable at times, and even if these discussions are not common in your social circles.
Promoting mental health in our community on the three campuses and beyond requires more than just awareness and accommodation – we must especially stress the importance of professional mental health services in our schools, ensuring that these resources remain accessible to students in need.
Notre Dame is now offering a new free health care program, Fight Irish care, which provides students with immediate telehealth services, including free counseling through Timely Care. This alternative offers a variety of services, including 24/7 mental health visits, scheduled counseling and health coaching. Their Faq on their website offers information on getting started.
The University orientation center (UCC) provides free mental health services to all undergraduate and graduate students in Notre Dame, offering drop-in hours on weekdays during which students can meet with a counselor for a consultation, as well as a hotline 24/7 crisis intervention available at 574-631-7336.
Campus Ministry also offers a “Need to talk», Allowing students to discuss their difficulties with a campus minister during reception hours or during scheduled meetings.
At Saint Mary’s, students can call 574-284-4805 to make free appointments with the Health and counseling center. Students also free access 24/7 telehealth service Timely care.
The first six counseling sessions for St. Croix students are free through Student counseling and health services, and can be scheduled by calling 574-239-8383 or sending an email [email protected].
While many students take advantage of the free resources offered by their respective schools, a large portion of students are unaware of how accessible and affordable these options are. If you know of anyone in the tri-campus community who might need support, remind them of these services. Offer a kind and compassionate voice. Remind them that there is no shame in asking for help. Emphasize that many students use these 30% of each graduating class at Notre Dame visit UCC during their stay as a student, and in 2017 Saint Mary’s reported over 20% of students had seen a counselor on campus.
While these statistics are encouraging, this large number of students seeking help reveals the flaws in our mental health systems on all three campuses. With the dramatic increase in demand at UCC in recent years, students have reported weeks of waiting for appointments, and others have expressed disappointment with the effectiveness of their treatments. Neither of these issues are attributable to individual UCC staff. Rather, they are an unfortunate consequence of the University’s failure to provide the funds and personnel for one of its most vital programs.
If these barriers are preventing you from receiving the treatment and attention you need, the UCC website also has resources for find off-campus mental health services, including Growing Campus, a platform that provides college students with references in off-campus mental health care.
For many, starting to seek support is the hardest part. Some might convince themselves that seeking treatment is “weak” or “inconvenient”; some might make sure that their struggles “are not important enough” to warrant therapy.
But asking for help is a sign of our humanity, and every mental health issue deserves our attention. Therapy is not just an emergency option reserved for mental health crises. It is also a form of self-care, a valuable tool for self-help, a weekly or bi-weekly check between you and your mind. In recent years it has become a essential part of the life of many students.
Mental health is notoriously difficult to maintain during times of academic stress, so as mid-term approaches, take care of yourself. It means saying no to some commitments and yes to others. It means making those decisions and not having to explain yourself.
In addition, we once again ask professors to be accommodating to students and to make classes accessible outside of scheduled class times. Whether through recorded lectures or hybrid courses, these accommodations are useful for students struggling to find balance their physical health, their mental health and their academic responsibilities. We once again call on faculty and administration to remember as COVID-19, the flu and other respiratory illnesses of the season are wreaking havoc on the mental health of a busy student.
Your years in college might be the only time in your life when you have free and easy access to professional mental health services – take advantage and encourage others in need to do so too. Take care of yourself, and take care of your tri-campus community.